Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Words: Hunger Games Movie Thoughts

All last week at work, I was running a Hunger Games trivia contest in the library. Friday morning I came in to see bleary-eyed students who had been up late but completely happy for two reasons: 1. spring break was about to begin and 2. they went to a midnight viewing of the movie Hollywood just hasn't been able to get enough of for the last few weeks and months. Now these kids are die-hard fans. One of them even insisted I give him harder trivia questions because my initial ones just weren't challenging to someone as enthusiastic about the books as he is. And so even though I've been reading the reviews from critics, it was the opinions of my teenage students that I was most anxious to hear.

The conversations all went something like this:
Me: So did you go to the midnight showing? How was it?

And then they would burst into descriptions of the costumes and the sets and the characters and the actors and the action. And when I asked if the movie lived up to the book, the general response was, "well, they obviously couldn't put everything from the book in the movie, but it absolutely did the book justice."

I kept all of this in mind then on Saturday night when I went to see the movie for myself (yes, I was rocking my Mockingjay pin - you know you're jealous!). The lights went down, the film rolled, and I was transported. Or more like Gary Ross had stuck a camera inside my head and brought my imagination to life.

I'm one of those people who is very critical when it comes to book-to-film adaptations. With Harry Potter, it took time for the more modern style of films 3-8 to grow on me and really accept that things wouldn't and couldn't be the same. This time around, though, I have no such complaints. Any changes that were made, I'm happy to accept for a few reasons:

1. Suzanne Collins, author extrodinare of the series, helped write the script. If she was okay with changes, then why shouldn't they be fine with me?
2. The things that were left out were things that I couldn't even fathom how they could be translated to film, such as Katniss' internal dialogue. But viewers still got an incredibly strong sense of what she was thinking and feeling, in my opinion. The amount of feeling Jennifer Lawrence was able to convey with her eyes alone was breathtaking - totally and completely Katniss.

All in all, I LOVED it. I think that a lot of interesting and dynamic choices were made, and the final product really captured the world that Collins built up well - my students were absolutely right when they said they felt the movie did the book justice. The casting in particular was spot on. Everyone did such a fantastic job giving voice to the characters so many people have come to cherish and identify with over the past few years. I have to admit I was particularly struck by how Josh Hutcherson's portrayal of Peeta was so close what I had in my head. It was brilliant, these actors were brilliant, and I cannot wait for what comes next.

That being said, I still feel like, as with most book-to-film adaptations, if you didn't read the book you'll be a bit confused. As I always say, read it first!

Also, for any teacher folk out there who might be reading this blog, last spring I had to do a project about connecting the novel to curriculum. You can view the final product of that assignment here.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. What were your thoughts? Comments welcome below and as always, happy reading!

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